Cycling is one of the most popular sports after a spinal cord injury. Because handcycles have 3 wheels, it’s relatively easy to get started. All you need is a road and a bike and you’re ready to get out there and get your blood pumping, feel the wind in your hair, and have some fun.


The most typical type of bike for people with SCI are recumbent handcycles (sitting or laying down with feet in front). Depending on the type of cycling you want to do, the positions vary: sitting upright for more casual riding or laying down for more aerodynamic, aggressive riding. For those with high amounts of trunk stability, kneeling handcycles are an option, though they are generally used by amputees and those with other lower limb impairments.

For incomplete SCIs where some leg functionality is retained, foot-pedaled trikes can be a good option. They are typically still 3-wheeled (thus the name “trike”) to solve any balance issues.

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Things to Know

  • Transferring – generally the more aggressive the seating position, the harder the transfer.
  • Abdominal strength – if you have some abdominal function, there are seating positions that can maximize those muscles. If you have none, there are styles that isolate those muscles.
  • Comfort – the most important. You may not need the most aggressive position unless you are racing or trying to keep up with really fast buddies.
  • Grip strength – for C-level quads, there are grips and even mechanical brakes and shifters.

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